20th Century Fox
Rated R for intense violence and brief profanity.
Archaeologists Search For Birthplace Of Humanity In Sci-Fi Horror Flick
Dateline: Scotland, 2089. While spelunking along the shores of the Isle Of Skye, archaeologists Charlie Holloway (Logan Marshall-Green) and Dr. Elizabeth Shaw (Noomi Rapace) discover an ancient painting etched into the ceiling of an abandoned cave. The uncanny researchers immediately discern that the primitive picture is an invitation from aliens to visit a moon located in a remote constellation that might very well have been the birthplace of humanity.
Fast-forward a few years and we find the curious couple already en route to LV-233 on a daring expedition to find proof that people were created not by God but genetically engineered by sentient beings from another galaxy. It is unclear how unearthing such evidence will affect the faith of Dr. Shaw, a devout Christian who always wears a cross that was a gift from her late father (Patrick Shaw).
As the spaceship Prometheus approaches its destination, Captain Janek (Idris Elba) and his crew of 16 are roused from a cryogenic state of hibernation by a doting, concrete blond android named David (Michael Fassbender). Upon landing, however, command of the operation is assumed by Meredith Vickers (Charlize Theron), a coldhearted, corporate executive employed by Weyland Corporation whose late CEO (Guy Pearce) underwrote the trillion-dollar mission.
The trip is just a job to the jaded Vickers, who is skeptical about what she refers to as “the scribbling of dirty little savages in caves.” In fact, she orders the disembarking explorers to refrain from making any direct contact with aliens.
Of course, contact with alien life forms is precisely the point of Prometheus, a high body-count, horror flick directed by three-time Oscar-nominee, Ridley Scott (for Gladiator, Black Hawk Down and Thelma & Louise). At this juncture, the picture proceeds to divide its time between raising probing philosophical questions about the intersection of science, religion and ethics, and gratuitous graphic depictions of body invasion, mutation, and gruesome vivisection.
Although initially conceived as a prequel to Alien (1979), also directed by Scott, the movie was ultimately released as a standalone adventure. Regardless, this riveting, visually-captivating and thought-provoking sci-fi is adequately executed to recommend for avid sci-fi fans, even if the heavy-handed, faith-based symbolism (“Where’s my cross?” and “After all this, you still believe!”) gets to be a bit much.
A thinly-veiled intro to the Alien franchise revising that classic’s tagline to suggest: In space, no one can hear you scream, except perhaps God.
Very Good (3 Stars)
Running time: 123 minutes
Redemptive Documentary Rectifies Image Of Much-Maligned African Tribe
40 years ago, Colin Turnbull gained widespread recognition as the author of The Mountain People, an eye-opening book about a little-known tribe living in a remote region of Northern Uganda near the country’s border with Kenya. His damning ethnological study indicted the Ik as selfish, loveless, sadistic monsters that bred indiscriminately, never sang, deserted their elders, laughed at each other’s misfortunes, and even fed their offspring to wild animals.
Because Turnbull was the only Westerner who had studied these ostensibly-depraved natives in depth, no one was really in a position to question the veracity of the British anthropologist’s shocking findings. At least, until recently, when Cevin Soling decided to conduct his own research to determine whether the horrifying accounts of barbarism he had read in the 7th grade were really accurate.
So he assembled an intrepid film crew before embarking on a perilous trek across some very dangerous terrain marked by civil war and inaccessible by automobile in search of the selfsame natives Turnbull had dubbed the worst people in the world. The upshot of that herculean effort is Ikland, a redemptive documentary which sets the record straight about the much-maligned tribe.
For, as it turns out, lo and behold, the Ik are a civilized and perfectly-polite clan, who love their neighbors, the elderly, as well as their young, judging by all the suckling babes being fed by bare-breasted, pipe-smoking women in front of huts. Soling, who not only directed but narrates the film, also interviews a few village elders about what they remember of the visit decades ago by a Brit detractor who might have had an agenda.
Because the Ik are so normal, what makes the picture fascinating is the filmmaker’s taxing ordeal trying to reach them. The ending soon after his arrival is almost anticlimactic, since the subjects are fairly ordinary folks, judging by African standards.
A caravan to the middle of nowhere proving it’s still the same all over, good people everywhere you go.
Excellent (3.5 stars)
In English, Ik, Swahili, Karamojong and Dodoth with subtitles
Running time: 96 minutes
OPENING THIS WEEK
For movies opening June 15, 2012
Rock Of Ages (PG-13 for sexuality, profanity, heavy drinking and suggestive dancing). Screen adaptation of the Broadway musical, set in L.A. in 1987, revolving around a waitress (Julianne Hough) and busboy (Diego Boneta) who fall in love at first sight while pursuing their dreams of superstardom. A-list cast includes Oscar-winner Catherine Zeta-Jones, nominees Tom Cruise, Alec Baldwin and Paul Giamatti, along with Russell Brand, Mary J. Blige and Will Forte.
That’s My Boy (R for nudity, sexuality, drug use, crude humor and pervasive profanity). Prodigal father comedy about a groom-to-be (Andy Samberg) whose life is turned upside-down when his estranged father (Adam Sandler) crashes the wedding, hoping to make up for lost time. With Leighton Meester, Vanilla Ice, James Caan, Tony Orlando, Luenell and Ciara.
Extraterrestrial (Unrated). Screwball, sci-fi comedy, set in Madrid, about two strangers (Julian Villagran and Michelle Jenner) who awaken in bed together the morning after a drunken one-night stand to find a horde of UFOs hovering above an evacuated city. With Miguel Noguera, Raul Cimas and Carlos Areces. (In Spanish with subtitles)
Follow Me: The Yoni Netanyahu Story (Unrated). Bittersweet biopic about the brother of Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, a Lieutenant Colonel who died leading the 1976 raid in Entebbe, Uganda, which resulted in the successful rescue of 103 hijacked airplane passengers being held hostage by Palestinian terrorists.
The Girl From The Naked Eye (R for violence, sexuality and pervasive profanity). Vigilante thriller about a chauffeur (Jason Yee) for a seedy escort service who embarks on a manhunt after the murder of a call girl (Samantha Streets) he had a crush on. With Gary Stretch, Dominique Swain, Ron Yuan and Sasha Grey.
The Kite (Unrated). Ensemble drama revolving around a half-dozen tales of transformation unfolding during Uttarayan, India’s annual kite festival staged in the ancient city of Ahmadabad. Cast includes Mukkund Shukla, Seema Biswas and Nawazuddin Siddiqui. (In Hindi with subtitles)
Marina Abramovic: The Artist Is Present (Unrated). Reverential biopic about Marina Abramovic, chronicling the Serbian performance artist’s preparations for a retrospective at Manhattan’s Museum Of Modern Art.
Rowdy Rathore (Unrated). Romantic comedy about a con man (Akshay Kumar) on the run from a gang of criminals who goes gaga over a girl (Sonakshi Sinha) he meets at a wedding he wasn’t even invited to. With Yashpal Sharma, Paresh Ganatra and Nassar. (In Hindi with subtitles)
Something From Nothing: The Art Of Rap (R for sexual references, drug content and pervasive profanity). Hip-hop documentary directed and narrated by Ice-T, tracing the evolution of rap music from ghetto kids’ form of experimental expressions into a global phenomenon. With appearances by Chuck D, Ice Cube, Snoop Dogg, Dr. Dre and Mos Def.
The Tortured (Unrated). Revenge thriller about a couple (Jesse Metcalfe and Erika Christensen) who decide to even the score with the psychopathic serial killer (Bill Moseley) who’d abducted and murdered their 6 year-old son (Thomas Greenwood. With Bill Lippincott, Aaron Pearl and Viv Leacock.
The Woman In The Fifth (R for sexuality, profanity and violent images). Adaptation of the Pawel Pawlikowski novel about a disgraced professor (Ethan Hawke) who emigrates to Paris to reconcile with his ex-wife (Delphine Chuillot) and estranged daughter (Julie Papillon) only to instead be seduced by a beautiful widow (Kristin Scott Thomas) implicated in a string of mysterious slayings. (In English and French with subtitles)
Your Sister’s Sister (R for profanity and sexuality). Character-driven drama, set on a scenic island on Puget Sound, where a woman (Emily Blunt) offers a grieving friend (Mark Duplass) use of her family’s cabin for solitude only to have the emotionally-fragile ingrate put the moves on her vulnerable sister (Rosemarie DeWitt) during a drinking binge. With Mel Eslyn, Jeanette Maus and Mike Birbiglia.